ALCOHOL campaigners in the North East claim the Government’s decision to ignore local experts over minimum pricing will cost 1,000 lives in England and Wales each year.
The North East alcohol group Balance and prominent medical experts want the implementation of a minimum price of 50p per unit in England and Wales.
However, yesterday the Home Office confirmed the coalition will seek to bring in a minimum price of 45p per unit.
In a written statement to the Commons, the department announced the start of a 10-week consultation process which could also see multi-buy deals in supermarkets and off-licences banned.
Policing Minister Damian Green said: “These measures are not about stopping responsible drinking, but designed to tackle the minority who cause alcohol-related crime and disorder in our local communities.”
But the news that the debate will be on a minimum alcohol price of 45p was a disappointment for local campaigners.
Experts believe it will take 10 years for the health effects of a 45p rate to kick in, but predict that once it does, it will cost 1,000 lives annually in England and Wales compared to the higher limit.
Balance director Colin Shevills said: “As with anything, with minimum unit price you get what you pay for. Setting the price lower than 50p will realise fewer benefits. For instance, with a minimum 45p per unit we stand to save 2,288 lives.
“That’s more than a thousand fewer lives than a minimum 50p per unit. Do we really value life so cheaply that we’d sacrifice 1,000 lives for the sake of 5p extra per unit?
“We know minimum unit price works. It has reduced consumption in Canada, which predicts success here.
“Targeted at helping the vulnerable, research suggests a minimum 50p per unit would reduce consumption by harmful drinkers by 10% and young people by 7%.
“At the same time, moderate drinkers would pay just 28p extra a week on alcohol for these benefits.